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essential information on public issues and proposed solutions


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 Response Page - Alice Hausman - John DeWitt  Interview on bus and rail transportation     

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Alice Hausman / John DeWitt Interview of

The Questions:

_3.6 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong
agreement, should planning and policy for bus and rail be separated from
planning and policy for highways?

_3.8 average___
On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong
agreement, should financing bus and rail be separated from financing for

_5.1 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong
agreement, should day-to-day management of bus and rail be separated from
day-to-day management of highways?

Larry Baker (0) (0) (5)
I note that we are now using more gasoline per capita in Minnesota than we did in 1970, despite vastly improved technology. This occurs largely because we drive more, offsetting technological gains in efficiency. How long can we continue this trend? This isn't a pure market system. Because much of our petroleum comes from unstable countries, prices would easily spiral out of control quickly, with great harm to our citizens, when political instability occurs (which it will). Hence we need to decide, collectively, to avoid calamity, by planning a transportation system that envisions far greater use of transit than cars. Every other country, and for that matter, almost every U.S. city, has better transit than the Twin Cities. When the petroleum crunch hits, the unprepared will suffer the most. This is one of those points in history when historians will look back and say "wasn't that obvious?"

Donald H. Anderson (5) (5) (5)
Ideally there should be coordination between the two groups of transit uses but realistically is it possible, given the "me only" society philosophy of today's society? Bus/rail vs. highways, local vs.state-wide, political appointments vs. election.

Richard McGuire (0) (0) (8)

Charles Lutz (2) (2) (2)

Wayne Jennings (2) (2) (3)

Frank Schweigert (_) (_) (8)

The first two questions here do not reflect the central concerns being addressed by Rep. Hausman in her proposed state-wide transit authority. The funding streams for transit and highways are already separated in significant ways, and Hausman's proposal is an attempt to reduce fragmentation in the management and expansion transit--not an attempt to further fragment planning or policy or funding. Civic Caucus members have raised important questions about the proposal, but taken together these questions do not point the way forward to an integrated and fair system of public transit serving more of our citizens.

Carolyn Ring (3) (3) (3)
It is difficult to separate one type of transportation from the other in serving the total population. The Civic Caucus member in #8 identified some of the key issues

John S. Adams (4) (3) (3)
(1) "Transit" is "moving people," and thus includes all modes--walking, bicycles, taxis, school buses, city buses, light rail, heavy (commuter) rail, van pools of all sponsorships, Metro Mobility, air transport, and private cars and ride sharing in car pools.

Each type of transit involves different technologies, different sponsors, different users, different laws, different forms of finance, and different advocates.

The various transit types emerged over the years largely independently of one another. It is complicated to consider how they might be integrated more efficiently, effectively and equitably in the future, so most discussions focus on one--or at most two--modes when planning is considered (e.g., park and ride linkages; bus and rail linkages, park and fly linkages, etc.).

The issues surrounding transit (considered in the broadest sense) differ in the Twin Cities commuting field vs. the regional centers around the state and their respective commute fields.

(2) Transit services and their supporting infrastructure are partly a public good and partly a private good. How to finance them and who should pay in terms of up-front capital investment and annual operating costs will always be contentious. It would make more sense to figure out where we wish to end up and then figure out how to get there than to begin the conversation with worries about how to pay.

(3) A statewide, long-range (40-50 years) transportation plan that considers all modes of people movement, freight movement, and other commodity movement (including pipelines & waterways) is sorely needed and long overdue. Going at these questions piecemeal with short-term thinking will not yield a good long-term set of results.

Jim Hetland (1) (1) (6)

Roy Thompson (3) (3) (3)

Brian Thiel (0) (7) (3)

Too many questions left to answer. Too soon to make huge investments.
Rep Hausman left a number of important questions asked by Civic Caucus unexplained (or they were not detailed in your summary). Therefore, I do not believe there is anything close enough yet to being a clear idea about how to decide near-term or long-term transportation priorities or policy. Without a consensus on a plan or concept, I oppose forging ahead with either large scale transit funding or management plans.

Unfortunately, muddling through is often the only choice left when so many indeterminate variables are so puzzling that any consensus about "the plan" has not yet been forged.

Noteworthy, it seems to me, is the underlying presumption of your guests that additional tax funding is an assumed requirement. If it would cost $15B to build an extra lane around the Cities, has anyone asked how the cost/benefit of that compares with the cost/benefit of the same expenditure in a combined road + transit plan. For me, and I believe, lots of others, every decision to dig deep and pay for something must be based on realistic expectations of beneficial outcomes. For me, that has not happened yet. You can count on this... if I am seated in the House chamber next year, I will be asking for that sort of "splainin'" before I cast any "yea" for B...I...G... bucks.

William Kuisle (10) (10) (10)

Bill Hamm (7) (7) (7)

While I agree with these statements (all at about a 7 level) I absolutely oppose her structure and financing options. First the giving only 2 seats to out state Minnesota on this 9 member proposed board is equivalent to 0 representation (token representation if you will and while metro representation has some elected qualities our representation is politically hand picked, no thanks. Then there is her proposal to go to the regressive sales tax to put this on the back of our poorest residents, no way will I support that. Just more pie in the sky as I see it.

Clarence Shallbetter (_) (0) (0)

Al Quie (10) (10) (10)

No elected office holders should be on the Transit Authority. Councils and boards should appoint just like the governor would in the proposal. There ought to be qualifications criteria for the members of the Authority

Vici Oshiro (5) (5) (5)
I'm persuadable; would want much more discussion of issues and a variety of potential solutions.

State Rep. Bev Scalze (10) (10) (10)
Creating a statewide Minnesota Transit Authority may become an outstate vs. metro contest as we have seen with MNDOT funding where outstate communities lobby for more funding than their tax base can support, therefore requiring movement of tax dollars from metro to outstate to fund their systems. It may make more sense to create an expandable 12 or 13-county transit authority around the metro area to include those
counties and residents that use services presently funded by the counties in the current transit authority.

Tim Olson
I refer everyone to my hybrid elected Met Council. Restore Met Transit separate from Wastewater and protect that dedicated revenue stream. Met Council is out of the housing business. The original Met Council is restored, more as a data base and less as a planning agency...and no taxing authority.

Appointed council members are replaced with sitting county commissioners with the task of budget over-sight of the three entities. It has always been a pet peeve of mine that transit is joined at the hip with roads and bridges and has proved to be to the detriment of our highway infrastructure.

I believe we as taxpayers should fully fund transit for those who depend on it for medical and economic reasons (10-15% of metro population?) and the rest of operating costs be made up at the fare box. The free market will determine the right-sized transit system.

Chris Brazelton (2) (2) (8)
There is a strong need for coordination of transit options and funding for transit and highways so that groups are not working at cross purposes for something that, ultimately, serves a united purpose of moving people and products around.

There needs to be meaningful regional input with accountability, whether it is through elected officials or appointed citizens boards or a combination of the two.

The day-to-day management needs to be a little more autonomous so that expertise is directed where it belongs.

Any transit or transportation options involve local, state and federal funding and subsidy to some degree. How much and whether options meet comprehensive criteria, including air quality, meeting the needs of low income, seniors, disabled community, etc. all need to be a part of the equation.

I met a family living in Delano that is struggling with transportation problems. The parents are seniors with an adult son who is wheel-chair bound and otherwise disabled so that driving will never be an option. He is living with his parents as he can't afford to live on his own. They are unable to transport him to an employment program in Buffalo and there is no public transportation or volunteer options available to him right now. What happens when his parents aren't around anymore?

Robert A. Freeman (3) (6) (7)
I did not find Rep. Hausman's separation argument compelling, and I think it is poor public policy to separate these functions. It seems like it creates competition between the two for public dollars. I think separating day-to-day management makes some sense but the two camps should still be coordinated.
Chuck Slocum (10) (10) (10)
I appreciate the earnestness and lack of partisanship to which Rep. Hausman brings to all that she does. Discussing a new transit authority is necessary, too long delayed; such an entity ought to be directly linked and fully integrated with a broader transportation oversight to include roads, bridges and all the rest.

I am concerned, as your report indicates, that different dedicated revenues serve, separately, (a) state highways, (b) county state aided highways and roads, (d) city state aided roads, (e) metro transit, (f) five-county transit ways, and (g) transit in some cities and counties in Greater Minnesota.

A great deal of long term and strategic leadership is needed in transportation and the Civic Caucuses thinking ought to be encouraged.

As for the question of who will pay for this--it will be the taxpayers and citizens who are users of the various systems.

David Alden (0) (0) (0)

Bob White (4) (4) (_)

Tentative 4s because integrated transportation management seems to me desirable, maybe even essential, but I really don't know whether it's possible. Valuable discussion.

Shirley Heaton
I don't see how one can separate transit issues from highway ones since both are involved in moving people and goods. I can recall during my urban planning days the inconclusive exercises we went thru trying to come up with ways to generate a divorce between the American driver and his/her car.

As for my reaction to the questions I'd have to strongly disagree with any idea of separating bus and rail from highway planning, policy development, funding and management.

John Nowicki (0) (0) (0)
I am concerned with the proposed composition of the supervisory board. It is seven county heavy. That elderly person mentioned by Hausman still will not have transport.

As a side note, the Caucus still apparently, has closed meetings. Future meetings are listed, but no time or place.

Joe Lampe (0) (0) (0)
The proposals are incoherent and unhelpful. Multiplication and fragmentation of transportation management entities is not the answer. The 9-member MN Transit Authority will accomplish nothing and will reduce accountability. The fundamental problem with transit is that existing technologies DO NOT WORK and cannot be made to work (high cost, poor service, energy inefficient, etc). Rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic is useless activity. A technology paradigm shift is required (i.e., podcars or personal rapid transit). Plus we have to set a goal of cost effectively increasing transit trips by 10X in 25 years.

Jim Keller (0) (0) (0)
I believe all major transportation decisions and funding should remain with the Legislature - not some independent agency.

Jim Solem
This is a really bad idea. Your questions miss the point--the idea adds to the fragmentation in decision making for the Twin Cities region and makes it even more difficult to have a region wide plan that can be funded and implemented in a way that recognizes the resource constraints as well as responds to the problems that need attention in a sequence that makes sense.

The Legislature is the place where the mess was created and they have made it worse in the last session with the transit funding fragmentation they created. Does anyone really think that a state wide thing will understand the needs of the metro area? How will we ever get the connection between transit and development that is needed with this added fragmentation? The merged Metropolitan Council was the right first step. Some legislators don't like the current Governor, for good reason, so they want to get at him by taking away the ability of the organization he controls--the Legislature created the new Metropolitan Council-to develop and fund a thoughtful regional transportation plan.

In short, I think you missed this one big time. The person you should talk to is Nacho Diaz, former transportation Division Director at the Council. Let me know if you want more information on this issue--it is too important to not get right.

Bright Dornblaser (0) (0) (8)
Planning for bus and rail ideally will be planned comprehensively and conjointly, even if the separate funding for roads will make it very difficult to develop or to implement a "best" plan. It should be supported by financing from one pot, but politically it is very doubtful so there is a need to do the best one can given that reality. Day to day management should be done by experts in the different modes of transportation which probably are different. Hopefully the different experts would be constrained in their decisions by any comprehensive plan.

Agree a critical issue is who has the right to decide on a comprehensive plan to bring the needed good judgment beyond political considerations. The Hausman proposal does not provide the right balance of representation to have confidence it will develop a balanced plan that will achieve necessary support for either any proposed plan or its funding.

Dan Loritz (3) (8) (8)

Ray Ayotte (5) (5) (5)

Larry Schluter (7) (4) (5)

This is quite a topic. A lot more questions need to be asked. There needs to be coordination due to the vast of money used for both but we need to look at bus and rail somewhat separately. However, this is a contradiction.



The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  Lee Canning,  Charles Clay, Bill Frenzel, 
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The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
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